|My adorable little Neti pot (that is actually a small Chinese tea pot, but hey, it works).|
Then, this summer, I experienced the worst bout of allergies of my life. In the span of a couple of months, I suffered three separate allergy attacks that all morphed into sinus infections that rendered me incapable of breathing or getting through a sentence without dissolving into a fit of coughs. The worst was if I was on the subway or bus, and I would struggle to cold in these awful tickling coughs so I wouldn't gross out the people next to me. So bad were these seasonal allergies that I had to take several days off work.
I finally decided to give the Neti pot a try, since I couldn't afford to take any more time from work, I needed to find some way to relieve my discomfort, and mostly, because I was simply sick of being sick.
And I have to say, I was extremely glad I gave this practice a chance. I am now a big fan of the use of Neti pots, and I have been breathing a lot easier since I have integrated it into my lifestyle.
- a Neti pot (*or suitable alternative)
- properly stilled and/or boiled water left to cool
- plain salt (that does not contain additives like iodine or anti-caking agents)
- baking soda (optional)
*For some strange reason, Neti pots are hard to come by where I live, even online. However, small ceramic tea pots are in huge supply. So I settled for this adorable teapot that fits well in the palm of my hand and has a spout that looks like it would fit nicely up my nose.
The most important thing about using Neti pots is keeping it clean and using only clean water when you're rinsing out your sinuses. So before my first use, I put the teapot in a pot of water and brought the water to a rolling boil for about five minutes before carefully removing it to cool. This ensures that any bacteria, microorganisms and chemicals present on the teapot are eliminated before I starting using it to rinse out my sinuses.
1. Create a saline solution of about 1/4 teaspoon of salt to 1/3 cup of warm water (you can adjust this salt to water ratio after a few tries, depending on your comfort level), and pour it into your Neti pot (or mix it in your Neti pot). It is important that you use plain cooking salt that doesn't contain other additives, otherwise you may irritate your sinuses. Feel free to add 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda into the mixture as well, as it acts as a buffer to those of you who find the simple saline solution a bit too harsh for your sinuses.
Also, make sure that the water you use is completely sterile. This means only use water that has been boiled, covered and left to cool no longer than 24 hours ago, or water that has been distilled through a filtration system with a pore size of 1 micron or less. NEVER use water straight from the tap, no matter how clean your city supplier says it is. You don't want to risk allowing a brain-eating microbe into your head.
2. Tilt your head forward over a sink and to the side, but not so far that your ear is parallel to the ground. If you drew a line down the middle of your face, it should only be tiled about 45 degrees (you don't want to tilt too far and have the solution go into your ear canal). Then open your mouth and breathe steadily through your mouth, not your nose.
3. Place the spout of the Neti pot in the nostril that is higher than the other, creating a comfortable seal, then begin pouring. The solution should rinse through your sinuses and come out your other nostril in a steady stream. If the stream is irregular and coming up in drips, or if no stream is coming through at all, that usually means your sinuses are clogged and it may take a few more tries before it clears. Make sure you keep your head tilted forward so that the solution doesn't trickle back into your throat.
4. Pour at least 1/3 cup of solution through one nostril, remove the spout, and lean forward to allow the rest of the solution to drain from your nose. Breathe out deeply through your nose to clear your nostrils, but try not to do it too forcefully. Now tilt your head the other way and repeat rinsing the solution through your sinuses through the other nostril.
5. After you've finished, again, allow your nose to drain over the sink. Then gently blow your nose without sealing off either nostril. Simply leave your nostrils open and blow gently into a tissue. If you seal off either of your nostrils, you risk shooting any remaining solution through your sinuses into your ear canals and causing an ear infection. More experienced users of Neti pots will actually snort the remaining solution into the backs of their throats to clear their sinus passageways there, and spit it out.
|My Neti pot even has the design of a little bat|
protruding from the side for better grip.
Now I use the Neti pot about once a week to help keep my sinuses clear and the flush out sneeze-inducing allergens. I use it more often when I'm battling a particularly bad bout of allergies or a cold, but never more than four times a day, for fear of irritating and/or damaging my sinuses. Using a Neti pot takes some getting used to, but once you get the hang of it it really does go a long way in helping those of us with sinus problems breathe more clearly and easily.
What I can't stress enough about using a Neti pot is that you must always only use it if it's clean and only use sterile water to rinse your sinuses. Between uses, clean your Neti pot with sterile water and allow to dry completely before your next use. This will help ensure there are no water droplets that may harbor microbes or bacteria that you end up pouring through our nose. Most Neti pots are also dishwasher safe, remember to periodically run it through the wash to keep it clean, and to keep your body healthy.
Also, like toothbrushes, designate separate Neti pots for each person in your home if more than one person wants to irrigate their sinuses this way. Neti pots shouldn't be shared and should be for your own personal use only.
I hope this post was helpful to all of you out there who suffer seasonal allergies and chronic sinus infections like I do!